After Florida Atlantic University fired student newspaper adviser Michael Koretzky on May 18, school officials warned that he may be arrested if he showed up at newspaper meetings as a volunteer. Those threats didn't keep Koretzky away, so now FAU is threatening the newspaper's editor.
On Wednesday, FAU Director of Student Media Marti Harvey told Karla Bowsher, editor of the University Press newspaper, that if she allows Koretzky to act as an unpaid adviser that Bowsher could be accused of breaking the school's rules on student conduct.
Speaking by phone yesterday, Harvey defended that stance. "The editor is an employee
of FAU, and it is beyond the scope of her authority to ask someone to volunteer," she said.
That's based on the fact that FAU pays Bowsher $8.25 an hour for 16 hours a week to serve as the newspaper's editor. That pay, Harvey insists, means the school can dictate who Bowsher names as a volunteer. If Bowsher refuses to comply, she'll be brought before a student conduct board that has the authority to expel her from college.
Bowsher says Harvey's threats haven't deterred her. Koretzky will still attend the newspaper's staff meeting at 2 this afternoon, although now he'll be called a guest speaker. However, Bowsher says she plans to keep Koretzky's name in the newspaper's printed list of employees as the adviser. "He has continued to remain in that capacity, and he's going to remain in the staff box," Bowsher said.
That decision, Bowsher says, is the "put up or shut up" moment for the administration. Harvey ordered Bowsher to stop meeting with Koretzky, on or off campus, and to no longer refer to him as the newspaper's adviser. When the next issue hits newstands on the Boca Raton campus on Tuesday, Bowsher knows she may face disciplinary actions by FAU.
Doing so, however, could trigger more problems for FAU. Koretzky has spoken to the ACLU, which has expressed interest in taking up the issue. And Bowsher has spoken to an attorney who assured her that FAU, if it disciplines her for meeting with Koretzky off campus, would violate her First Amendment rights.
Bowsher has the most to lose here. She's a senior Spanish major and could be expelled. But she says FAU's crackdown could backfire. "I see this only as something I stand to gain from. They could make my career with this."
Koretzky, meanwhile, is also hoping for a fight. He says that if the administration tries to kick him out of newspaper meetings that they'll move them to an area on campus often referred to as "free speech lawn" because it's where the university has designated speakers can assemble.
"I would just love to see them arrest me on free speech lawn," he said. "I choose my friends and enemies carefully, and I feel like I'm hated by the right people here."